|01:02A pick - usually what is now referred to as a "flat pick." Beginning in the ragtime era, banjos were used in dance orchestras that used pianos, violins and sometimes woodwind and brass instruments. The contemporary three-finger playing style on gut strings could not be heard, so banjoists, taking a lead from mandolinists, began using a pick or plectrum and metal strings to increase the volume of their instruments so they could be heard.
In this style of playing, with more elaborate chord changes and modulations, the fifth string, whose pitch was not commonly modified by fretting, became an annoyance, so often it was simply not installed. Eventually the tuner and space for the fifth string was left off in manufacturing, creating the "plectrum banjo". This instrument had the same scale length as the traditional five-string and was tuned the same, but lacked the fifth string attachments and was played with a (flat) pick rather than the fingers.